According to new research by a Canadian health systems organization, a significant percentage of patients waiting for hip or knee replacements or cataract surgery didn’t have their procedures done within recommended wait times last year.
The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) said Wednesday that 30 per cent of Canadians waiting for those surgeries didn’t see them happen within the recommended six months.
The CIHI study said wait times continue to vary based on location, with most provinces improving wait times year-over-year.
In Manitoba, patients waited longer for hip and knee replacements and cataract surgery last year than they did in 2016, and also had to wait longer than the national average for each of those three surgeries in 2018.
However, the province continues to deliver comparatively shorter wait times for the higher-priority procedures, including hip fracture repairs, MRIs, and CT scans.
“We are meeting the increasing and sustained demand from an aging population for these priority procedures by performing more of them than ever before, across most categories, with significant increases in the number of MRI and CT scans,” said the province’s health, seniors and active living minister Cameron Friesen.
Friesen said the suboptimal wait times for some surgeries are long-term challenges the Pallister government is working on addressing, including more than $5.3 million in funding to increase the number of hip and knee surgeries performed in the province this year by around 1,000.
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Other improvements include the opening of a hip and knee clinic to cut down on the number of people referred for surgery.
“We know that Manitoba has lagged behind other jurisdictions in a variety of health indicators for a long, long time,” said Friesen.
“While previous governments have been satisfied with the status quo, we are not.”
Skuli Sigfusson had his right knee replaced in October.
He’s one of the Manitoba patients who had to wait longer than the six month benchmark. He says he had to wait a year and a half.
“Your knee swells up and you don’t have the flexibility. You can’t bend your knee as much as you want,” he said.
Sigfusson remembers having trouble moving around but says the worst part of the process is the pain.
“The only thing is, it’s a quality of life [issue], and it also really hurts at night time. So it all depends on your sleep,” he said.
“If you can sleep without pain then it’s not too bad, but I was in pain for probably the last six months, quite a bit of pain.”
Manitoba’s health minister encourages those in Manitoba on the waiting list to be patient while they work on reducing wait times.